Matrix metalloprotease-13 (MMP-13) is induced by pro-inflammatory cytokines and increased expression is associated with a number of pathological conditions such as tumor metastasis, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and periodontal diseases. MMP-13 gene regulation and the signal transduction pathways activated in response to bacterial LPS are largely unknown. In these studies, the role of the mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) pathways in the regulation of MMP-13 induced by lipopolysaccharide was investigated. Lipopolysaccharide from Escherichia coli and Actinobacillus actinomycetemcomitans significantly (P < 0.05) increased MMP-13 steady-state mRNA (average of 27% and 46% increase, respectively) in murine periodontal ligament fibroblasts. MMP-13 mRNA induction was significantly reduced by inhibition of p38 MAP kinase. Immunoblot analysis indicated that p38 signaling was required for LPS-induced MMP-13 expression. Lipopolysaccharide induced proximal promoter reporter (-660/+32 mMMP-13) gene activity required p38 signaling. Collectively, these results indicate that lipopolysaccharide-induced murine MMP-13 is regulated by p38 signaling through a transcriptional mechanism.